In my experimental painting and drawing class, Sally asked us to cut some images from magazines and use them to make a mixed media collage. She asked us to choose the pictures we were drawn to, so I put my brain to one side and went with my feelings.
I found this both exciting and challenging as it encouraged me to combine things which didn't initially seem to go together, and it forced me to think about composition.
The collage also enabled me to combine different materials together, which created some unexpected effects.
What I love most about working with mixed media is that I can work very freely and I'm not too worried about making mistakes. In fact the times when I feel I've made a mistake are the best because I'm forced to think about it from a different angle to put it right.
The "Mixed media collage" picture above is the completed mixed media collage and I'm going to explain how I created it.
How to Create a Mixed Media Collage
1) Choosing the Images
For this piece I chose a door, a window, an egg shape mosaic for the wall, 3 mosaic pieces for the path and a picture of Singapore's Solar Powered Supertrees.
I was particularly drawn to the door because of its gorgeous vibrant colour.
I stuck the images on a heavy weight cartridge paper using PVA glue. I diluted the PVA with some water so that it was thinner and easier to apply. After sticking the images on the paper, I put another coat of PVA on top of the images to secure them further in place.
2) Connecting the images
I needed to find a way of connecting the images together. The door, window and mosaic tiles have a Mediterranean feel to them, so I thought that was a good starting point. The Supertrees brings in nature so this was something else I could work with.
3) Using texture paste to create a wall
I thought a wall connecting the window and door would be the perfect way to bring the two together. I thought texture paste would be the best medium to use to create the wall.
I first put another coat of diluted PVA over the door and window, and also applied it to the surrounding area where I was going to apply the texture paste. The texture paste is quite heavy, so applying the PVA beforehand helps to strengthen the paper and prevents it from tearing.
I used a small palette knife to apply the texture paste around the window and the door. I applied it so that it looked like stone, and was a continuation of the pictures. I waited for the texture paste to dry before applying any paint.
4) Applying acrylic paint to the wall
I mixed up two sets of colours in acrylic, the golden yellows and browns for the wall surrounding the window, and the blues for the wall surrounding the door.
I applied the paints using a brush. I also used a paper towel to take away some of the paint which exposed the lighter shade underneath. This helped to achieve the effect of the stone, which can be seen clearly in the "Wall created using texture paste and acrylic paint" picture on the left.
I used charcoal to highlight the egg shape mosaic shape on the wall and made it look like an eye.
5) Using white acrylic paint to soften hard edges
White acrylic paint is fantastic for softening the edges of the magazine images, and it's also great for creating streaks which can make the image look faded. This can be seen clearly with the Supertrees.
I also used white acrylic paint to soften the edges of the wall and the 3 mosaic tiles in the centre.
6) Creating a path using the 3 mosaic pieces
It did take me a while to figure out how I was going to create steps or a path using the 3 mosaic tiles. I ended up getting some soft pastels in lilac, blue and turquoise and started applying them gently around the tiles. I then blended the colours using my fingers.
The pastels didn't look very good and looked out of place, so I got some white acrylic paint and gently painted over the soft pastels using a brush. This faded the colours and they started to fit in more with the picture.
I wanted to give the impression of mosaic tiles, so once the white acrylic paint was dried, I used some charcoal to apply some lines to the path. The result of this can be seen in the "Creating the mosaic path" picture on the left.
7) Filling the empty spaces
I needed to fill in the space of the centre left and bottom right of the picture. I thought plants and pots would connect the pieces of the collage.
I decided to draw the potted pant on the bottom right hand side of the picture. This can be seen in the "Adding a potted plant" picture on the left.
I decided to do the pot in lilac to complement the colours in this area and I used oil pastels to create the pot and plant.
When I finished the potted plant, the colours looked too bright and didn't fit in with the rest of the picture. The white acrylic paint came to my rescue once again.
I softened the area with the white acrylic paint, and I also used diagonal strokes, especially across the pot. When I applied the acrylic paint on top of the oil pastels, it took some of the colour with it, but this created a lovely soft colour around the pot and plant.
Once the paint had dried, some of the definition on the pot was lost. I applied a tiny amount of charcoal dust, using a paint brush, at the base of the pot, and a tiny amount on the edges. I then used a white oil pastel to add some soft highlights.
I really liked the effect created around the pot, so I thought I'd use the same technique for the base of the Supertrees. This time I covered the bottom area with a lilac soft pastel and blended it with my fingers. I then used the white acrylic paint to soften the colour and to blend everything together.
8) Connecting the window to the Supertrees
I decided the best way to connect the window to the Supertrees was by some sort of a vine.
I drew the pot with oil pastels and used water soluble coloured pencils for the vine. I used a slightly wet brush on top of the coloured pencil so that it looked like water colour.
The shape of the branches falling down from the pot are similar to the top of the Supertrees. I thought this would tie the two together perfectly.
I drew the branches using the water soluble pencils and then used white acrylic paint to soften the lines. This can be seen in the "Connecting the window to the Supertrees" picture on the left.
I must admit, the finished mixed media collage was an unexpected surprise, it turned out better than I imagined. It did take me time to think about the best ways to connect the magazine cuttings. I had to think about colour, style and composition. By experimenting, making mistakes, and just seeing how things turn out, I have achieved something that I couldn't have imagined before.